Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Intel: Privacy and Monopoly

March 12, 1999

Intel Corporation’s new Pentium III microprocessor was recently released, and computers containing the new chip are now available in stores. Those who welcome the arrival of the Pentium III cite its ability to improve the performance of multimedia applications such as speech recognition and streaming audio and video. Critics, however, raise concerns over the chip’s most controversial feature: a Processor Serial Number, or P.S.N., which is embedded in the Pentium III. The computer version of a social security number, the P.S.N. makes it possible to track individual machines while they are online. Intel claims that a security feature allows the user the option of turning off the P.S.N.

However, Germany’s computer magazine, C’T, reported that their technical experts were able to bypass the chip’s security mechanism and gain access to the P.S.N. This means that technically savvy individuals and companies could secretly obtain the P.S.N. numbers of Internet users. Consumer and privacy groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the privacy issues of the Pentium III.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the F.T.C. reached a settlement with Intel in an antitrust suit against the corporation. The suit alleged that Intel, which controls 80% of the world semiconductor market, refused to share information on their chips with computer manufacturers until they handed over sensitive trade secrets. Without this chip information, manufacturers cannot design the next generation of Pentium III compatible components.


  • Jason Catlett, President of Junkbusters, one of the organizations that has led the campaign against the Intel Pentium III.
  • Russ Smith, head of, the Consumer Information Organization. A resource for consumers, particularly web users, the group monitors direct marketers and campaigns for consumer privacy.
  • Jamie Love, Director, Consumer Project on Technology. The organization addresses antitrust enforcement and policy.
  • Tara Lemmey, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Related links:

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.